North America Region

Canada: With one of the strongest and most resilient labour markets in the world, Canada has been able to generate jobs in a consistent way ever since the 2007-9 recession. One weakness, however, has been the production of graduates in science, mathematics and engineering.

Persistent unemployment amongst low-skill workers indicates there is a shortfall in retraining opportunities. Social mobility is, however, encouraged by laws in some provinces that include “social origin” as a category for protection from discrimination. Minimum wage, hours and health and safety restrictions are well policed by the labour inspectorates at federal and provincial level and serious violations can result in lengthy prison sentences for accountable managers.

Greenland: Although part of North America, this territory is part of Denmark and applies Danish laws. Under the Act of Self-government the local parliament may make supplementary laws. For instance, a new limited Liabilities Company Act came into force on January 1st 2018.

Mexico: There is a huge informal labour market throughout Mexico and the high birth rate means that there is a huge dependency ration for those who can find work. The high reliance on remittances coming in from emigrants to the USA is rapidly coming to an end as borders are more heavily policed and undocumented migrants in the USA are being repatriated. There is widespread discrimination in the labour market, particularly against women and LGBT people. The standard working week is 48 hours, but the minimum wage is set at below the poverty line. Many employers operate a system requiring employees to work without weekly rest periods when order books are full and, even if employed within the law, employees still receive poor statutory entitlements.

USA: The USA appears to be able to sustain a very long-term trade deficit without risking its economic survival. However, its 2017 tax reforms have made it far less able to sustain its previous level of public spending or permit it to continue to meet its external commitments.

The USA used to be a ‘land of opportunity’ and valued its long history of successful waves of immigrant labour from all around the globe. However, the present administration is heavily limiting these inflows and even ending existing residence rights in the name of “American Jobs for Americans”. This will have a huge negative impact on the economy, which is heavily reliant on cheap, low-skilled labour – especially from Latin America.

Although there is a relatively high level of litigation in the US the labour market is poorly regulated and many employment rights are either non-existence or established at a low standard. This is especially the case in states which allow hire and fire entirely at will and designate themselves as “a right to work” zone (meaning anti-union). Generally, there are minimal annual leave and sickness benefit provisions provided by statute and it is up to individual employers to enhance them through employment contacts. The US economy is very vulnerable to competition from Asian business and technological investments both in China and companies reshoring their production. This is being further underlined by the onset of trade wars which the US cannot win. Therefore, its days of global economic dominance may be sadly numbered.

Greatest advantages: Stable democracies, good labour supply, New tax breaks (USA), well-run economy (Canada). Large domestic markets.

Greatest disadvantages: Huge informal economy (Mexico), civilian threat posed by liberal gun laws (USA) and crime levels (Mexico), emergent trade wars, Unpredictable, and – from an external perspective – unhinged political administration, pushing the doomsday clock to two minutes to midnight (USA).

Proportion of global land area: 12%
Proportion of global population: 6.4%
Annual rate of population increase: %Life expectancy: Men years Women year

World Bank rating (doing business): 6/190 USA, 49/190 Mexico
FedEE overall employment potential rating: 8/10
FedEE regulatory rating: 4/10 (Canada 6/10)

Minimum wage rates (selected states/provinces)
– Canada (Ontario): $14 an hour (1.1.2018)

– Mexico: 88.3 pesos per day (November 2018)
– US Federal: $7.25 per hour (July 2009)
– US California: $11 an hour (1.1.2018)